The Long Road to Justice

The History of the Human Rights Movement in Canada

Canada was the land of freedom to the fugitive slaves, yet they met with so much prejudice at first, on account of their colour, that it was with difficulty they could procure the common comforts of life. When they endeavoured to have their corn ground they found it no easy matter. A man would often walk three and four miles with two or three bushels on his shoulders, through paths in which the mud was knee-deep, leave his corn at the mill, and then go repeatedly after it in vain; he would be put off with a variety of excuses till be was quite discouraged, and would conclude that it was almost useless for him to raise any grain; and yet there was no other way for him to have a bit of bread or corn-cake. I was tired of hearing these complaints, which became real grievances, and without having a spare dollar in my pocket, I determined that, as the only remedy was to have a grist-mill, independently of any already established, I would erect one and help the coloured people out of their difficulties.

– Josiah Henson

The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.

– W.E.B DuBois

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.

– Frederick Douglass

The mark of the modern world is the imagination of its profiteers and the counter-assertiveness of the oppressed. Exploitation and the refusal to accept exploitation as either inevitable or just constitute the continuing antinomy of the modern era, joined together in a dialectic which has far from reached its climax …

– Immanuel Wallerstein

No matter how small the opportunity, it is critical that the voices of people of colour and the marginalized are not silenced or ignored. Earlier generations bore the burden of breaking down barriers to equality and securing our human rights entitlements. It is now our burden and responsibility to our children and future generations to safeguard these hard-fought gains like their lives depend on it.

– Lorne Foster

Let us teach our children that freedom has never been free.

– Curtis Mayfield


Thank you for taking the time to visit the The Long Road to Justice: Reflections on Human Rights in Canada website at York University, Toronto.

We are currently undertaking an exciting and new web-based project involving the construction of the first interactive website documenting and critically examining the history of the human rights movement in Canada.

The LRJ website provides a link between the past and the present in the discourse on social justice in Canada by promoting awareness of the long journey of the human rights movement.

The main focus of the web-project is to provide a full range of multimedia resources that will inform students and community leaders about the history, current status, and future complexity of human rights in Ontario. The human rights policy web-project will engage the evolution of human rights policy in Ontario and Canada from a social justice perspective. It will be designed to help students and community leaders to understand the historical interplay of values and public policy so that they have the capacity to judge what is ethical or unethical and can appreciate and promote a human rights and civil society agenda in a dedicated and practical manner.

This website will also be designed to promote a discourse on citizenship and as an educative tool for present and future leaders in the local community and the global society. The goal of this multimedia project is to contribute to the creation of “public policy for a dynamic citizen democracy.”

This website is dedicated to those who have cried and those who have died to release the angels in us…